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How To Tailgate - 101
Whither you're going to a football or baseball game, a NASCAR race, or some other event that beckons you to tailgate, there are a few things that can make your day a lot easier and enjoyable.
We're BIG NASCAR fans and our tailgating doesn't start a few hours before the race; it starts nearly 12 hours earlier. Yes that's right, we have season tickets to Richmond's Spring and Fall night races. We've learned a few things about tailgating in the heat, the cold, the rain and the sun shine. If you're prepared, you can be ready for anything you might face at your tailgating event.
Gather Together:
· The one thing you'll need more than anything, is a check list.
   We've posted our list to give you an idea of what to take.
Step 1:
Plan! Start your check list at least 1 week earlier than you need it. Think about what you'll need and add it to your list. Trust me, if you think about it early; you'll be prepared when you get there. And don't think you won't need it once you've set up your space. If you've thought about it, you're going to want it once you've relaxed or started cooking.
Step 2:
Make any food preparations at home the day before you leave. Once you're out in the parking lot you're not going to have everything you need or want. Nor are you going to have an easy way to wash your hands or your utensils. Of course keep everything in your fridge! Don't pack your cooler with perishables the day or night before. You'd be amazed at how easy it is to create food poisoning by doing this. Your cooler should be on of the last things you pack.
Step 3:
Pack your vehicle backwards. Make sure the first things you'll need are the first things you can get to once you arrive. For instance, your tailgating tent should be as close to the last thing you put in your truck or car, so it can be the first thing you take out once you arrive at your event.
Step 4:
Once you arrive, try to judge the space you're going to be directed to by the parking staff. If you're driving a large truck or SUV, you may not have room for tailgating if they park you behind or in front of a similar vehicle. If you can, negotiate with the parking guys; they are generally very helpful and try to accommodate people. The best thing to do is if you have a large vehicle is to park in front of or behind a small car. Keep in mind, most tents used for tailgating are 10' x 10'. You will need room!
Step 5:Fan Flags
Once you're in your spot, check the direction of the sun. Think about how long you're going to be tailgating. If it's an all day thing, like it is for us, you want your tent facing North to help shade your space during the hot afternoon sun. If you're tailgating for just a few hours, you may not need to worry about this.
Step 6:
We HIGHLY recommend taking a tent of some kind. Even if you're just tailgating for a few hours, you're going to be standing out in the sun all that time. Even on a cool day, the sun can be very hot after a few hours. On the other side, there's nothing worse than going to your event feeling damp and wet because you got caught out in a short sprinkle or a major downpour.
The other thing to keep in mind, you will want a way to tie your tent down. At every NASCAR event we've been to, the parking lot is just a giant field. Hammering tent stakes into the ground is easy. But some events, such as a football game might be in a paved parking lot where this isn't going to be easy to do. In these cases, consider alternative methods, such as 2 sand bags for the external legs, and rope for the internal legs that you can use to tie the internal legs to your vehicle.
Step 7:
If you're tailgating in the afternoon sun, make sure you have some way to shade your space. That's shade in addition to your tailgating tent. This isn't just to help keep your space cool. It's also to help keep you and your guests from being blinded by the light.
Our tailgating tent came with a screen liner. We fold the liner in half and put it up just on the side of the tent that faces the sun. If you look at the picture at the top of this article, you'll see an example.
For More Information:
Make sure you visit the website of the facility you're going to. Every stadium and race track will have information about tailgating. The do's and don'ts, and even some helpful hints.
Additional Tips:
· Check out our Check List mentioned above.
· Take your check list with you to your event. You'll inevitably find something you forgot and you can add it to your list for next time.
· Keep your list in an electronic form. On your PC, iPaq, iPod or whatever.
· Set aside extra time on your way to your event to buy ice. Do it near home. The closer you get to the event, the more chance you'll find ice dispensers are sold out.
· Go to your local home improvement store and look for a large insect/garden spray bottle with a pressure pump handle. Set this bottle aside to use ONLY for your tailgating events. On tailgating day, fill it with water and use it as a hand washer out in the lot.
· Make sure you take games of some kind to keep you entertained. Cards, Golf toss and Corn Hole toss are the most popular.
· If you're taking children, make sure you have toys. Give them something to do while you party and relax. We also take along the LeapFrog hand held game pack, Gameboy and books. Our son started going to Nascar events since he was 5, the older he gets the more he likes taking books to read.
Be Careful:
· Pack up most of your stuff when you go into your event. Generally your tent is safe, but it's amazing what people will walk by and steal while you're enjoying your game or race.
Created: 04.29.2009       Updated: 04.29.2009
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